What the Notorious BIG Can Teach You About Sounding Smart

January 12th, 2010

One day a man was talking to his co-worker at his office.  They talked about many things, but inevitably the subject of work came up.  You see, each man worked in different departments and had different bosses, and they liked to talk about the latest goings-in.

One man said to the other, “My boss is a notorious workaholic.”

He meant it as a compliment.

The problem?

The boss overheard him. It made him angry.  And rightfully so.

Notorious is NOT a synonym for being well-known.  Notorious means to be well-known for something evil.

For example, the Mafia is a notorious organization.

Or Mr. X in my office is a notorious butt-kisser.

So, keep this in mind.  You may use notorious to mean well-known, but notorious has a negative connotation.  You may be fine if no one knows, but if a vocabulary-power-driven individual knows the true meaning, he or she might not be so flattered.

Hence, the image of the late Biggie Smalls—the Notorious BIG.  He knew what it meant.  It fed into his gansta persona.  He knew something about something.  RIP, Biggie.

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